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Driving west from Lincoln to Grand Island, Nebraska, Paul A. Johnsgard remarks, is like driving backward in time. “I suspect,” he says, “that the migrating cranes of a pre–ice age period some ten million years ago would fully understand every nuance of the crane conversation going on today along the Platte.” 

Johnsgard has spent nearly a half century observing cranes, from a yearly foray to Nebraska’s Platte River valley to see the spring migration, to pilgrimages to the birds’ wintering grounds in Arizona and nesting territory in Alaska. In Sandhill and Whooping Cranes he draws from his own extensive experience as well as the latest science to offer a richly detailed and deeply felt account of the ecology of sandhill and whooping cranes and the wetlands in which they live.

Incorporating current information on changing migration patterns, population trends, and breeding ranges, Johnsgard explains the life cycle of the crane, as well as the significance of these species to our natural world. He also writes frankly of the uncertain future of these majestic birds, as cranes and their habitats face the effects of climate change and increasing human population pressures. Illustrated with the author’s own ink drawings and containing a detailed guide to crane-viewing sites in the United States and Canada, this book is at once an invaluable reference and an eloquent testimony to how much these birds truly mean.

"In keeping with his long and fascinating series of books about birds, Paul Johnsgard captures the drama of the greatest gathering of cranes on earth - the flocking in early spring of more than a half million sandhill cranes along the Platte River, Nebraska. This charming volume transmits that special magic when the cranes, springtime, and the river all meet on the Great Plains in the heart of North America." - George Archibald, cofounder of the International Crane Foundation

Born in Fargo, North Dakota, PAUL A. JOHNSGARD is Foundation Professor of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska — Lincoln. One of the world's foremost authorities on ornithology and bird behavior, his thirty-four books include The Niobrara: A River Running Through Time, Song of the North Wind: A Story of the Snow Goose (1974), Those of the Gray Wind: The Sandhill Cranes (1981), and The Platte: Channels in Time (1984). He was educated at North Dakota State University (BS), Washington State University (MS), and Cornell University (PhD). His recent book, This Fragile Land: A Natural History of the Nebraska Sandhills (1995), "is an extended love letter to the Sandhills region and its people, plants, and animals." His primary interest is the comparative behavior of birds. His field work has taken him to North and South America, Australia, and Europe. He wrote the script for "A Passion for Birds," aired as part of the PBS Nature special "Cranes of the Grey Wind" (1990). Among his many books is a whimsical volume on dragons and unicorns, co-authored with his daughter. He is the author, most recently, of Prairie Birds: Fragile Splendor in the Great Plains (UP of Kansas, 2001).

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